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V Minestrone Soup

Minestrone is a thick Italian soup made with fresh seasonal vegetables, often with the addition of pasta or rice. Common ingredients include stock, beans, onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. However, there is no set recipe for minestrone, since it is usually made out of whatever vegetables are in season. It can be vegetarian, contain meat, or use a meat-based soup stock.

Use the following recipe as a guide and add whatever vegetables you have on hand. You can use water instead of vegetable or chicken stock. Sauté onions in olive oil instead of simmering in wine. Leave out the cabbage, if you like. Add more herbs or use different herbs. Try barley instead of pasta. Use more tomatoes and lots more zucchini. Stir in a big spoonful of pesto for extra flavor. Every time you make minestrone, it can be different.

2 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
1/2 cup dry white wine
9 cups canned low-salt broth

1/3 cup dried chick peas, soaked overnight (or a can of chickpeas)

1 cup chopped tomato (skinned and chopped)
4 cups diced green cabbage (about 10 ounces)
2 cups diced zucchini (from about 2 medium)
3 cups (packed) coarsely chopped fresh greens (spinach, chard, or others)
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh basil

1 sprig of parsley

6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) acini di pepe or other small pasta, cooked first

Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine celery, onion, leek and wine in heavy large stockpot over medium heat. Simmer until vegetables are tender but not brown, stirring frequently, about 12 minutes. Add broth and bring to boil. Add chickpeas, tomato, cabbage, and zucchini and simmer 10 minutes. Add chopped greens and cook 5 minutes. Stir in sliced basil and parsley. Add cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle soup into bowls and serve, passing grated Parmesan cheese separately.
Serves 6.